Why Can’t I Make this Work?

I see it crumbling right before my very eyes. I stare into her eyes and see the pain and there is nothing I can do. I want to reach out to her, tell her how much I love her but my words are empty without the supporting actions. Every move I make is handcuffed. I cannot release who I really am because of this prison in which I exist and yet I know it will be the demise of my marriage. I look up into the night sky during an isolated evening and I pray a simple pray: God, why can’t I make this work?

A man’s vulnerability is a complex issue. But most women don’t care to understand this vulnerability we men deal with. Women believe if a man is in love he should open himself in such a way that whatever vulnerabilities he is feeling will be squashed by the love she brings. The truth of the matter is men don’t operate this way. When we open ourselves to experiencing such heavy psychological and deep-rooted vulnerabilities we feel weak. Weakness might be one of the strongest negative characteristics for men. It might be the kryptonite that destroys our soul. Submitting to being weak is a “no-no” in any language. Weak men are squashed and no woman wants a weak man.

Then how does a man express his deepest vulnerabilities without feeling weak? How does a man show that while he might have vulnerabilities he can remain strong? Aren’t vulnerabilities akin to showing a weakness? This conundrum in which men operate causes confusion. For all of us that Believe know confusion is not of God.

In today’s relationship-market our vulnerabilities become more exposed than ever. As a man of a certain age attempts to date he takes the risk of being rejected for some vulnerability if he allows himself to open up. We expect our maturity to kick in and for us to handle these situations like adults but the fact is we are human; humans with real emotions. These emotions are strong and uncomfortable. Many times to hide any weakness we downplay the emotions and focus on other things in life where we can approach them like robots. This includes our jobs, our golf games, exercise, or anything else that is not human, let alone female. And through this we believe we are able to overcome.

Well, what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be more vulnerability? What if we opened up without the fear of rejection? How would we be accepted by our potential partners? A man has to be very comfortable in his own skin to allow his willingness to be open not impact that whom he is. Only so many men actually reach this level of maturity. Many of us continue to wallow in the world of miss-illusions where we continue to shelter our deepest insecurities and harbor a false sense of who we are as men. The lucky ones, well, I believe they experience something much greater in their relationships. They experience a trusting bond with their partners that allow them to be as free as they can with no judgment.

It is only through this mutual trust that a relationship can thrive. Therefore, one can presume the question “Why can’t I make this work?” rarely occurs in a healthy relationship. It is replaced with “I am making this work.”

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan

I Love You but I Don’t Like You

Oxymoronic? Maybe. Crazy? Possibly. Sensible? Debatable. A path to destruction? Very likely.

Work with me on this.

This phrase as well as many other similar phrases is a contradiction in terms when we go to the root cause of the definitions. If I try to understand this statement logically my brain explodes. In computer science we call this an infinite loop which ultimately crashes the computer. BAM! There it goes. So what then on how to re-program my brain to logically understand the statement? That is not possible. What is possible is to understand root cause and then to extrapolate scenarios. These scenarios are what scare me.

Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, and they fall in love (for whatever that is) and get married and live happily ever after. No? Right, because at some point girl says, “ooh, I really don’t like your butt right now!” Boy says, “I agree, I don’t like you either.” They go to bed feeling some dislike for one another. However, the boy is usually going to try and perform make up sex (because we like sex) but the girl won’t have this because her emotions are not there (feeling dislike). The couple wakes up still feeling dislike. This dislike is like a virus. If it isn’t squashed it will harbor in the crevices of our feelings and take root like cancer. The boy and girl haven’t resolved the dislike. Ultimately bitterness sets in. Now what?

The dislike has turned to bitterness, love has not been able to grow, and the couple now faces the daily tasks of trying to figure out how to undo the bitterness that has set in. This opens up the long road of therapy in some form or another; usually unsuccessfully. It unlocks the door to such more sinister things as infidelity, anger, and hatred. And how does one truly rationalize love and hate in the same sentence? You don’t. They are at odds. Like good and evil. Like yin and yang. Like Elvis and Costello? I am just kidding on this last one.

But what I am not kidding about is the destructive pattern the potential “dislike” created. An innocent admission of hurt or disagreed feelings and it escalates into something serious. Relationship problem #1 identified.

We gotta fix this crap!

Well, the fix is in. It isn’t rocket science and we all admit to it and we all say it – forgiveness; the lifeline of civilization. We can stop all wars with forgiveness. We can repair broken relationships with family and friends. We can make the world sing in perfect harmony! We can overcome – anything. We could live without pressures of disapproval knowing that our sins, either conscious or otherwise, would be forgiven. As I write this column I am reminded of the forgiveness from God. It is fascinating when you think about how to forgive.

This is not an easy task. It is much easier to exclaim “I love you but I don’t like you.” We all know that the two adjectives cannot coexist over a long period of time. Therefore, many of us have figured out that over time we do learn how to forgive. Forgiveness comes by choice. However, it can only come after wounds are healed although scars may remain. But we tend to feel better when we sincerely forgive. It ain’t easy but it is vital in this thing called life.

Go well and with love my good peeps.

Family; Familia; Famille; Familie; Familj…

I am back from spending a wonderful weekend with family during our biannual reunion. People travel from near and far to commune, discuss, fellowship, and bask in the aura of family love. Family bonds intricately bind our family love together in a beautiful weaving way. We toss away any feelings of bitterness, sadness, or hostility for a moment to gather strength through togetherness. And it is a wonderful thing. But what really is this family bond that we feel? Is it merely a feeling or is it something more that interconnects us? And does a family start with two?

thekids2

Missing from this reunion was my complete family – the inclusion of my children’s mother. Through the challenges of divorce my family makeup has changed and it is noticeable during these family functions. However, with the support of the entire extended family me and my kids moments are no less special; different and unique but special nonetheless.

My family bond is created through the desire to belong. Many of us may believe our common blood line might have a special magnetic draw for each of our family members, although, there is no evidence that a purely physical connection draws us any closer to one another. It is our desire to be part of something special that unites us. Family gives us special moments and memories building on top of one another creating lasting memories within the recesses of our minds.

We can connect with friends that can become family. We have family members we do not have anything in common yet we desire to connect. We marry and start a new family hoping the bonds of family grow stronger than the temptations to break us apart. And we constantly search to find that special bond that moves us forward. Connecting with family is an awesome gift.

Divorce changes everything. The new family you created changes. Dynamics within the extended family change. Relationships are different. It is a big adjustment especially when you have had a close relationship with the extended family. Divorce also requires us to change our definition of family. My little family unit has become a splintered family – torn apart. But the bond and love we feel from the larger extended family comforts us and continue to bind me and my kids. Thus, it is crucial to surround ourselves with loving family during challenging times such as these.

I appreciate the experience my children will gain. I love how their lives are touched by relatives, both young and old, and I see how important it is for them to feel connected beyond one side of their two parents. They will have a unique experience for their lives as they develop and nurture the bonds of family. My rich family history shows my kids there is much more to gain from a splintered family beginning. And it is up to me and their mother to help balance these experiences so as to not neglect one family side versus the other. There is nothing more valuable than being accepted and belonging to a tribe – and that tribe is what we call family, regardless of how it is created.

Chronicles of a Divorced Dad: Co-parenting is Difficult at Best

I had to drop my son off to his mom’s apartment after tutoring. He was not feeling well so I had to get there a little early because of his illness. I gathered up his belongings and we headed to the car. As we got to his mom’s place and we were about to get out of the car he had a tear in his eye. I asked him “what’s wrong?” He explained he was sad because he wasn’t feeling well. I assured him it was okay and not to worry about stuff you can’t control. I gave him a big hug and he headed down the hall towards the elevator.

As I turned around and started to leave – I was overcome with a familiar feeling, that same feeling I get on a weekly basis, that feeling of sadness. I was reminded of my situation and what it means to be a divorced father of two. A divorced dad. Not fun.

This feeling is not anything you want to deal with but you deal with it. It is re-living a painful death on a weekly basis. Many a man has to deal with this feeling and most people don’t understand. You’re a man. You’re supposed to be strong. You deal with it, damnnit! You must prevail over your emotions.

You are overcome with the feeling. That feeling that says I wanna be there for my boy because he’s not well, or with my daughter just so I can be there when she wakes up, or knowing that she sleeps with a picture of me by her side. Those simple things we don’t much think about or we take for granted the love our kids have for each parent. And we deal with the difficult feelings these acts bring. Co-parenting and raising kids separately is difficult at best.

Not an easy task by any means even if you have the support of loved ones.

We have painful reminders we encounter as we go through life’s challenges and the effects they have on us. We have difficult emotions to overcome especially when you are handicapped in dealing with them – unspoken depression, machoism, or just being a man.

But somehow we do overcome the emotions. Us divorced dads. Us single dads – although, we don’t use this terminology much, we leave that for the women. Men like me continue to do what we have to do, pay the support we are ordered to pay, and try to be in the lives of our kids because that’s what we do. It is what we were born to do. And many of us men accept this challenge.

We do this week after week even in spite of the feelings we experience. Talking to no one about it. We all experience that familiar feeling, that slowly painful death as we are separated from our growing kids. However, at the end of the day, we are thankful of being with our kids if only for that moment. And we find the strength to go forward just to experience the euphoria and the letdown all in the same breadth. It is for the love of our kids.

Daddy Dan